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Kentucky players talk Northern Illinois win, plus postgame notes and milestones

Jacquez Jones had a big game as he gets set to face his former Ole Miss team.

Jacquez Jones Dylan Ballard - A Sea of Blue

Saturday night at Kroger Field saw the Kentucky Wildcats score a 31-23 win against Northern Illinois. Despite getting the win, Mark Stoops called the performance “sluggish” and said there are plenty of things to work on heading into the Week 5 clash with Ole Miss.

After the game, myself and other media members took some time after the game to talk with some of the star players of the game about their performances and their upcoming games, which some would call the “meat” of the schedule with seven-straight SEC contests looming.

First, we talked with Will Levis, who had a big day in the air, throwing for 303 yards and four touchdowns.

Then, we took some time to talk with middle linebacker and team captain Jacquez Jones. The former Ole Miss linebacker led the team in tackles with 12.

We also spoke with true freshman wide receiver Barion Brown, who finished the day with four receptions, 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Lastly, we spoke with Tayvion Robinson, the senior transfer from Virginia Tech who finished with a career-high 147 yards receiving and found the end zone twice.

Now, here are the postgame notes and milestones via UK Athletics.

Team Records and Series Information

  • Kentucky is 4-0 while Northern Illinois is now 1-3.
  • This was the first meeting between the teams.
  • Next for UK: the Wildcats play at Ole Miss on Saturday, October 1. Game time is noon EDT (11 a.m. CDT in Oxford). The game will be televised by ESPN.

What the Win Means for Kentucky

  • Kentucky is 4-0 for the third time under Coach Mark Stoops, also 2018 and 2021.
  • It is the first time UK has started 4-0 in consecutive seasons since 2007 and ‘08.
  • Kentucky extended its school-record non-conference win streak to 19 games, longest active streak in the nation.
  • Extended Coach Stoops’ school records for total wins (63) and home wins (44).
  • Kentucky has an eight-game winning streak dating back to the last four games of the 2021 season. It ties for the fifth-longest win streak in school history:
  • 12 games (Oct. 28, 1909 - Nov. 5, 1910)
  • 10 games (Sep. 16 - Nov. 18, 1950)
  • 9 games (Sep. 24 - Nov. 19, 1977)
  • 9 games (Oct. 1, 1898 - Oct. 18, 1899)
  • 8 games (Dec. 5, 2020 - Oct. 9, 2021)
  • 8 games (Nov. 13, 2021 – Sept. 24, 2022)
  • After beginning 12-26 at UK (two games into the 2016 season), Stoops has gone 51-27 (.654) since.
  • UK has won its last four games at Kroger Field and 11 of its last 12 at the stadium.

Team Notes

  • UK has allowed 30 or fewer points in 50 of the last 56 games.
  • UK has allowed 52 points so far this season, fewest in the first four games since 2008 (22 in the first four games).
  • UK allowed 199 passing yards tonight. UK has allowed fewer than 200 pass yards in all four games this season, first time since 1989 that UK has held the opponents under 200 pass yards in the first four games of a season.
  • On its first possession, Kentucky drove 75 yards in 16 plays for a touchdown. It is the longest drive of the season for number of plays.
  • In the second quarter, Kentucky drove 98 yards in only four plays, UK’s longest drive of the season for distance. It is UK’s longest since the final touchdown drive vs. Louisville in 2019, also 98 yards.
  • UK had two 100-yard receivers tonight, the first time that happened since Josh Ali and Wan’Dale Robinson vs. New Mexico State last season.
  • Kentucky rushed for a net 103 yards, equaling its season high set last week. Five quarterback sacks for –21 yards is included in that figure.

Player Notes

· Quarterback Will Levis completed 18-of-26 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns.

  • He is the first Kentucky quarterback with at least three passing TDs of 40 or more yards in the same game since Drew Barker against Southern Mississippi in 2016.
  • After throwing for 377 yards last week, he is the first UK quarterback with back-to-back 300-yard passing games since Patrick Towles vs. Eastern Kentucky and Auburn in 2015.
  • He is the third QB in Kentucky history to have at least two 300-yard passing games that featured fewer than 20 completions, also Bill Ransdell and Stephen Johnson.
  • This was his sixth 300-yard passing game at UK, fourth-most in school history.
  • Levis has 34 touchdown passes at UK, fourth-most in school history.
  • Has 4,012 passing yards at Kentucky, becoming the 11th player in UK history to throw for at least 4,000 yards.
  • This was the third time in Levis’ UK tenure that he has thrown for four touchdowns. The previous two were against ULM and New Mexico State.
  • Levis has accounted for 47 total touchdowns at UK (34 passing and 13 rushing), fifth among Wildcat QBs in that category.

· Running back Kavosiey Smoke led the Wildcats in rushing tonight with 12 carries for 85 yards. He now has 1,569 career rushing yards, moving up to 21st all-time on UK’s career rushing list.

· Wide receiver Tayvion Robinson set career highs with seven catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns, including a 69-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter that is the longest play of his collegiate career and his first touchdown at Kentucky.

  • It is the second 100-yard game of his career, both this season at Kentucky.

· Wide receiver Barion Brown caught four passes for a career-high 102 yards and his first two UK receiving touchdowns.

  • He had a 70-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in the third quarter that is his longest of the season.
  • He is the second UK freshman with 100 yards and two receiving touchdowns in the same game, also Garrett Johnson at Florida in 2014.

· Robinson and Brown are the first duo with 100 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in the same game since Derek Abney and Derek Smith at Vanderbilt in 2001.

· Linebacker Jacquez Jones led all players with 12 tackles, his second double-figure game as a Wildcat and fifth of his collegiate career.

· Linebacker DeAndre Square was next with six tackles, adding a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.

· Kicker Matt Ruffolo made a 49-yard field goal, just a yard shy of his career long, and made all four extra points. He remains in eighth place in school history with 207 career points.

· Punter Colin Goodfellow had his best game of the season with a 46.3-yard average on three punts, including a season-long 60-yarder.

· First –time starters: true freshmen WR Barion Brown and DB Alex Afari.

· Game captains: Will Levis, Kenneth Horsey, Jordan Wright and DeAndre Square.